Ice Palace is the last level in Tomb Raider II’s Tibetan quartet - yes, it’s only been four levels, Barkhang Monastery doesn’t count for nine - and as concluding levels go, it’s a fairly decent farewell. It’s pretty, challenging and even has a boss “fight” (although I use the term loosely).
Lara continues her search for the Talion, that all-important artefact that nobody bothered to tell us we were looking for until the last level.
Start. Corridor-ish. Need I say more?
When you’re building a complex in which to house an artefact which is crucial in obtaining an item of world-destroying power, doors that can be opened by ringing a bell is probably not the most efficient security method you could plump for. On the other hand, it’s a lot more fun than the tired old key-in-lock standard.
I don’t know what kind of bullets those Uzis take, but apparently they’re too big to squeeze through the foot-wide gaps between these bars, and Lara has no choice to watch on as these caged yetis prance about, alternately yelling and looking pissed off.
Meanwhile, this is an optimum spot for killing the yetis; two storeys above and partially obscured by a walkway.
Anyway, griping aside, this section of the level is home to the awesome springboards which launch Lara several feet into the air whenever she steps on them. The lack of an audio track where Lara cries ‘Wheeeeeee!’ as she is propelled towards the ceiling was just an oversight, I’m sure.
It’s usually a good idea to try and land on something when you get propelled in the air, else Lara tends to break her neck when she falls back down to the floor. Bizarrely, the springboard doesn’t immediately fling her corpse back into space like some kind of macabre trampoline, even though she must still weigh the same amount as when she was alive. Leave it up to the monks to build a intelligent springboard that respects the dead.
The snow leopard apparently wiped out, it is now the snow tiger that is fixin’ for an extinctin’.
Another dark room, complete with yetis and spike pits.
Don’t believe how dark it was? This is a screencap from when my flare ran out. I spent the next four seconds jabbing at the flare-draw button and quietly sobbing in terror.
Hey, look, it’s the previous level! I love it when games do this.
A cool and unusual solution though it may be, but this seems like an awful lot of effort to go to to melt some ice. I mean, we have a grenade launcher, for goodness sake.
Ridiculous and time-consuming method aside, it was totally worth it to lay our hands on this…wooden spoon?
Oh, no, of course, it’s a gong hammer. Duh.
This yeti just wants a cuddle, but Lara really doesn’t take well to having her personal space invaded.
She’s not at all interested in making friends with a whole group of friendly rolling snowmen, either.
Thankfully, this was one dark pit I could avoid venturing down; I know, I checked.
Here’s the gong for which the gong hammer is needed. It features a seagull-headed tutu-clad Creature from the Black Lagoon. Whatever religion this symbol is from, I ain’t converting to it.
I thought this was a particularly fancy Thermos flask, but no, it is in fact the much-sought-after Talion. Thank God it took a lot less time to find than the Seraph.
Unfortunately, the Talion comes complete with its own guardian, which thankfully isn’t the same thing as featured on the gong. Or is it? There’s something about the sway of those hips that suggests ballet isn’t a completely unknown art-form for this beast. Still, I’d say s/he’s more gorilla-meets-parrot-meets-knight than anything else. Either way, it was obviously spawned in the deepest recesses of hell and needs to return there as soon as possible.
This isn’t too much of a problem, as the Guardian can’t fly or climb and can be easily sniped from any particularly tall heap of snow.
Once you’ve murdered the Guardian (or righted nature’s terrible, terrible wrong as I prefer to think of it), the level abruptly ends. Don’t leave yet, though, because it’s super-awesome-FMV-time!
Lara climbs out of the catacombs and makes her way back to the outside world, where she immediately stumbles upon a camping site full of cultists.
Don’t smile, Lara. Don’t ever, ever smile.
Someone who leaves their car keys in the car’s sun-visor deserves everything they get.
Lara commandeers a vehicle and drives off, unfortunately awakening the sleeping goons and spurring them into pursuit.
Go ahead, keep shooting. I’m sure you’ll hit her, she’s only about a mile away.
Lara manages to operate a shotgun and manoeuvre a jeep at the same time, and yet can’t shoot through wooden cage bars. You need to stop missing the basic orientation classes for things, Lara.
One of Lara’s would-be assailants is…Agent 47?
Finally shaking off / killing her pursuers, Lara returns to China, where she began her adventure.
I don’t know much about geography, so I’m going to give Core Design the benefit of the doubt and believe that one can drive from Tibet to China in the space of a night.
…actually, a search tells me that Tibet is in China. Sort of. I think it may be a matter of some debate. Rest assured that me not labelling these posts “China” as well as “Tibet” is entirely due to ignorance, not political persuasion.
Oh, it’s that door from The Great Wall again, sans dead guy.
Lara inserts the Talion into the door she found during her brief visit to China, and it creaks open in response, revealing a dark passage. Leaving daylight behind, Lara steps inside.
Ugh, do I have to?